Frank Turner-Be More Kind

               Frank Turner isn’t exactly a musician out of time.  He’s made a career embracing the past while making fairly relevant music.  He’s also noted for having a diverse taste in music.  If one had to guess, he has an equal affinity for ABBA and Queen as he does for Rancid.  He also will unashamedly speak his political views and point a finger at those he sees as fallacies and evil.  Be More Kind sees Turner seeking empathetic people while taking a step away from his folk and punk roots and leaning into a more radio-friendly indie rock sound. Continue reading

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Spanish Love Songs-Schmaltz

LA’s Spanish Love Songs have all the promise of a band that can have real staying power.  They have the hunger of a band that wants people to hear their songs and feelings, and they have the talent to back it up.  Their latest album Schmaltz brings the breakneck intensity of hardcore, but the emotionality and varied sounds of emo.  They take the heartland-americana punk sounds of bands like The Gaslight Anthem or The Menzingers and tie in the heavy pop-punk sounds reminiscent of Upsides-era Wonder Years.  Schmaltz sees a band in the formative stages of becoming an excellent act that will only get better. Continue reading

Kississippi-Sunset Blush

This isn’t an album I would normally enjoy.  Debut albums from indie rock bands that toe the line between dream pop and emo are usually aggressively okay.  The songs are fine, but they don’t become interesting until the second album.  That’s sort of the case with Philadelphia’s Kississippi.  Sunset Blush is both energetic and mellow, and it seems like the type of album that I’d shrug off as “fine.”  Here’s the thing: it’s pretty good, and I’ve been really enjoying Kississippi’s first album. Continue reading

The Wonder Years-Sister Cities

Philadelphia punks The Wonder Years have continually shown that they’re more than just punks.  Since the release of Suburbia, they’ve never really had an adequate match within the Warped Tour scene that they’re often lumped into, and they don’t really mesh with the artsy DIY punk scene that creates artists like Long Neck or Pinegrove.  This is all to say that even though Sister Cities isn’t their best, The Wonder Years are still in a class all their own. Continue reading

Jack White-Boarding House Reach

Jack White would probably like to be thought of as this generation’s Lead Belly, but really, he’s more likely to go onto to be like this generation’s Lou Reed-an obsessive but eclectic madman dedicated to his art and reinvention.  Like Reed, White is also unafraid of failure or ridiculousness (see: Lulu and “Leck Mich Im Arsch”).  Boarding House Reach sees White leaning into his own experimentation on the weird, sloppy, boring wreck of an album. Continue reading

Mount Eerie-Now Only

               This is all terrible to write about.  Last year’s A Crow Looked at Me was a career-defining album for Phil Elverum.  That’s terrible to say, because it’s an album so rooted in the tragic loss of his wife, Geneviève.  It’s also somewhat ignorant, because Elverum had been working as a musician for over two decades.  While a popular artist in his own rite, A Crow Looked at Me was the sort of album that propelled him into a certain level of mainstream success.  His near-immediate follow-up Now Only should not be nearly as good as it is, but it’s a similarly haunting and honest album. Continue reading

Titus Andronicus-A Productive Cough

To say I wasn’t really looking forward to Titus Andronicus’ new album wouldn’t be right.  I really wanted to hear it, but I also planned to dislike it.  In the interview that was released with “Number One (In New York),” Patrick Stickles declared that A Productive Cough would have no “punk bangers.”  Those were my favorite Titus songs, and now Stickles wanted to get rid of them?  These fears evaporated upon listening to “Number One.”  A Productive Cough doesn’t have the same sort of gritty, shout-along songs like “Dimed Out” or “A More Perfect Union,” but the songs aren’t any less punk bangers. Continue reading

Camp Cope-How to Socialise & Make Friends

Camp Cope has positioned themselves as a hyper-political pop-punk band that will fight against sexism, gun rights, sexual abuse, and so much more, but the Australian trio is so much more than that.  While Camp Cope utilize their platform to speak about equality and representation, their best songs are deeply personal.  The band writes numbers that rage and songs that can let your entire world break around you, and How to Socialise & Make Friends really makes way for both of those worlds. Continue reading